Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Glover, Julia

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GLOVER, Mrs. JULIA (1779–1850), actress, was born in Newry 8 Jan. 1779. Her father, an actor named Betterton or Butterton, is said to have claimed descent from Thomas Betterton [q. v.] About 1789 she joined with her father the York circuit, and appeared under Tate Wilkinson as the Page in the 'Orphan.' She is said, like Mrs. Davison [q. v.], to have played the Duke of York to the Richard III of George Frederick Cooke [q. v.] She also acted Tom Thumb to the Glumdalca of the same actor. After accompanying her father on country tours, she made her first appearance at Bath, 3 Oct. 1795, as Miss Betterton from Liverpool, playing Marianne in the 'Dramatist' by Reynolds. In the course of this and the following season she enacted Desdemona to the Othello of H. Siddons, Lady Macbeth, Lady Amaranth in 'Wild Oats,' and many other important characters in tragedy and comedy. On 12 Oct. 1797 she appeared at Covent Garden as Elwina in Hannah More's 'Percy.' Her engagement was for five years, at terms then considered high, rising from 15l. to 20l. a week, her father being also engaged. Mrs. Abington, to whom she bore a marked resemblance, Mrs. Crawford, and Mrs. Pope were opposed to her. Her second appearance as Charlotte Rusport in the 'West Indian' pleased the author (Cumberland) so much that he gave her the part of the heroine, Emily Fitzallan, in his new play, 'False Impressions,' 23 Nov. 1797. She was the original Maria in T. Dibdin's 'Five Thousand a Year,' 16 March 1799, and was the heroine of other plays. She then played Lydia Languish, Lady Amaranth, and other comic parts. Under pressure from the management, which preferred Mrs. H. Johnstone in her parts, she took serious characters, such as Lady Randolph, the Queen in 'Richard III,' &c., for which she was less suited. She contracted an affection for James Biggs, an actor at Drury Lane, whom she had met at Bath. After his death (December 1798) her father, who took her salary and treated her with exceptional brutality, sold her for a consideration, never paid, of 1,000l. to Samuel Glover, the supposed heir to a large fortune. She was married 20 March 1800, and on the 27th played Letitia Hardy as 'the late Miss Betterton.' On 10 May she was announced as Mrs. Glover, late Miss Betterton. Towards the end of the season 1800-1 she reappeared, though she did not often perform. On 21 Oct. 1802, as Mrs. Oakly in the 'Jealous Wife,' she made her first appearance at Drury Lane. Next season she was again at Covent Garden, where she remained for four years. On 28 Sept. 1810 she appeared for the first time at the Lyceum, playing with the Drury Lane company, driven from their home by fire. With them she returned (1812-13) to the newly erected house in Drury Lane. She was, 23 Jan. 1813, the original Alhadra in Coleridge's 'Remorse.' On 12 Feb. 1814 she was the Queen in 'Richard III' to Kean's Richard, and on 5 May Emilia to his Othello. On 16 Sept. 1816, on the first appearance of Macready at Covent Garden, she played Andromache—her first appearance there for ten years—to Macready's Orestes. She then played with Thomas Dibdin [q. v.] at the Surrey in 1822, and again returned to Drury Lane. When, 27 Oct. 1829, at Drury Lane, she played Mrs. Subtle in 'Paul Pry,' it was announced as her first appearance there for five years. The last chronicle of Genest concerning her is her original performance, 13 Sept. 1830, at the Haymarket, of Ariette Delorme in 'Ambition, or Marie Mignot.' Her Mrs. Simpson, in 'Simpson & Co.,' 4 Jan. 1823, was one of the most successful of her original parts; Estifania, Mrs. Malaprop, Mrs. Candour, Mrs. Heidelberg, and Mrs. Subtle were also characters in which her admirable vein of comedy and her joyous laugh won high recognition. After seceding from Webster's management of the Haymarket, she engaged with James Anderson in his direction of Drury Lane. Subsequently she joined William Farren [q. v.] at the Strand, where she went through a round of her best characters, including Widow Green in the 'Love Chase' of Sheridan Knowles, of which, at the Haymarket in 1837, she was the original exponent. What was called a professional farewell took place at her benefit at Drury Lane, Friday, 12 July 1850, when she played for the last time as Mrs. Malaprop. She had been ill for weeks, and was scarcely able to speak. On the following Tuesday she died. On Friday the 19th she was buried near her father in the churchyard of St. George the Martyr, in Queen Square, Bloomsbury. She had in 1837 two sons and two daughters living. Her sons, Edmund and William Howard, are separately, noticed. On 29 April 1822 a daughter made her first appearance at Drury Lane as Juliet to the Romeo of Kean, when Mrs. Glover was the Nurse. A writer in the 'New Monthly Magazine' (probably Talfourd) says 'that sometimes her mother, in her anxiety, forgot a disguise extremely difficult for her rich and hearty humour to assume' (vi. 250). Mrs. Glover was very unhappy in her domestic relations. Her father preyed upon her until he died, aged over eighty. Her husband did the same for a time, but failed in a dishonouring proceeding he brought against her. Mrs. Glover was plump in figure, and in the end corpulent. Leslie, in his 'Autobiography,' speaks of her as 'monstrously fat.' She was fair in complexion, and of middle height. She was the first comic actress of the period of her middle life, and had a wonderful memory. Benjamin Webster speaks of her reciting scene after scene verbatim from Hannah More's 'Percy' after it had been withdrawn from the stage thirty years. 'The Stage' (1814-15, i. 162) says: 'Mrs. Glover is indeed a violent actress; it is too much to say that she is a coarse one.' She is generally credited, however, with refinement and distinction, and in her closing days was called the 'Mother of the Stage.' Boaden, in 1833, declared her the ablest actress in existence. She once, according to Walter Donaldson, played in 1822 at the Lyceum Hamlet for her benefit (Recollections of an Actor, p. 137). The same authority (p. 138) says her brother, John Betterton, was a good actor and dancer.

[Works cited; biography by Benjamin Webster, prefixed to his edition of tbe Country Squire of Dance; Genest's Account of the English Stage; Oxberry's Dramatic Biog.; Era newspaper, 21 July 1850; Actors by Daylight.]

J. K.